Academic journal article Childhood Obesity

The Relationship between Parental Behaviors and Children's Sugary Drink Consumption Is Moderated by a Television in the Child's Bedroom

Academic journal article Childhood Obesity

The Relationship between Parental Behaviors and Children's Sugary Drink Consumption Is Moderated by a Television in the Child's Bedroom

Article excerpt

[Author Affiliation]

Marlene B. Schwartz. 1 Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, University of Connecticut, Hartford, CT.

Kathryn Gilstad-Hayden. 2 Community Alliance for Research and Engagement, Yale School of Public Health, New Haven, CT.

Kathryn E. Henderson. 5 Henderson Consulting, Guilford, CT.

Joerg Luedicke. 6 StataCorp, College Station, TX.

Amy Carroll-Scott. 3 Department of Community Health and Prevention, Drexel School of Public Health, Philadelphia, PA.

Susan M. Peters. 4 New Haven Public Schools, New Haven, CT.

Catherine McCaslin. 4 New Haven Public Schools, New Haven, CT.

Jeannette R. Ickovics. 2 Community Alliance for Research and Engagement, Yale School of Public Health, New Haven, CT.

Address correspondence to: Marlene B. Schwartz, PhD, Director, Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, University of Connecticut, One Constitution Plaza, Suite 600, Hartford, CT 06103, E-mail: marlene.schwartz@uconn.edu

Introduction

Sugary drinks are beverages sweetened with caloric sweeteners (e.g., sugar or high-fructose corn syrup), such as soft drinks, sports drinks, fruit drinks, and sweetened teas and coffees. These beverages have been the biggest single source of added sugar for children ages 2-11 and adolescents ages 12-17.1 There is a substantial body of research documenting how sugary drinks contribute to childhood obesity, as well as increased risk of a range of metabolic and cardiovascular diseases.2-5 A major public health concern is that sugary drink consumption is significantly higher among children living in low-socioeconomic-status (SES) households6,7 and has increased more rapidly among black and Hispanic youth relative to their white peers,8,9 making it a likely contributor to health disparities.

Public policy efforts to reduce youth sugary drink consumption have targeted multiple levels of the socioecological model, including such varied strategies as proposed taxes,10 restrictions in government buildings,11 restrictions in schools,12 exclusion from federal food programs,13 removal from restaurant children's meals,14 and calls for bans on marketing sugary drinks to children and teens.15,16 Though it is critical to continue reducing the availability and marketing of sugary drinks to youth, the home environment also deserves attention. Recent studies have found that most sugary drink consumption occurs at home and the primary source of sugary drinks is the grocery store,17,18 suggesting that parents have a significant role to play in limiting their children's consumption of these beverages.

Parents also determine whether or not there is a television (TV) in a child's bedroom. This decision appears to differ by race, ethnicity, and SES of the family, with higher likelihood of a bedroom TV among children from low-income families, as well as black and Hispanic families.19 There are several reasons why a bedroom TV is not recommended. One study of children from low-income families found that those with a bedroom TV watch 4.6 more hours of TV per week than those without.20 There is also a substantial body of research documenting that a TV in a child's bedroom is a predictor (alone or in combination with other measures of TV and other screen time) of childhood obesity, poor diet, and sugary drink consumption specifically.20-25 There is evidence that watching commercial TV exposes children to significant amounts of unhealthy food and beverage marketing, which, in turn, increases the likelihood of consuming of unhealthy products.19 Experimental research has found that children eat more unhealthy snacks while watching TV that contains food commercials than TV with nonfood commercials. …

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